At least 1,200 women assaulted at German New Year’s Eve celebrations: leaked documents
The scale of sexual assault claims at New Year’s Eve events throughout Germany has been revealed in leaked documents, according to a German news outlet.
Munich-based Süddeutsche Zeitung reported Monday federal police believe more than 1,200 women, including 600 in Cologne and another 400 in Hamburg, were the victims of sexual offences and thefts as Germans gathered to ring in 2016 across the country.
Police also believe more than 2,000 men were involved in the assaults, although investigators have only identified 120 suspects in the more than six months since that night.
More than half of the suspects identified were men who had immigrated to Germany from North Africa, according to Süddeutsche Zeitung.
The federal police, Süddeutsche Zeitung reported, drew a connection between the attacks and the wave of refugees and migrants who made their way to Germany last summer and fall amid the greatest movement of people in Europe since the Second World War. Germany alone took in more than one million asylum seekers in 2015.
“In this respect there is already a relationship between the occurrence of the phenomenon and the strong immigration just in 2015,” a translation of the article read.
But the documents also revealed investigators did not find evidence to indicate the series of attacks were in anyway pre-planned or orchestrated.
An article in the Washington Post opined, “It is likely that authorities did not want to risk fueling tensions without having certainty over how many refugees or foreign nationals were involved in the assaults.” But the article went on to explain German news outlets rarely divulge the nationalities of suspects of those accused of crimes.
As more information became public in the days and weeks following the New Year’s Eve attacks, the details fuelled anti-refugee sentiment in Germany and throughout Europe.
DeutscheWelle reported last week there had been complaints of more than 114 “politically motivated attacks on refugee housing” in Germany in the half-year since the attacks.
The attacks, however, also prompted Germany’s parliament, the Bundestag, to enact legislation that changed the country’s sexual assault laws.
The legislation, passed last Thursday, has become as the “No means No” law.
Prior to its passing, simply saying no was not enough under German law for a suspect to be convicted of rape. Instead, according to DeustscheWelle, a victim had to demonstrate physical resistance to an attack in order for an assault to be punishable.
According to the BBC, groping is now considered a sex crime under the new law and migrants and refugees who commit sex crimes can be deported more easily.
Out of the suspects identified in the attacks, only four have been convicted so far, including one 21-year-old Iraqi man and a 26-year-old originally from Algeria. Both were convicted last week and were given suspended one-year sentences, the Washington Post reported.
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